I have heard that it is a wise practice to start with your Most Important Thing each day. That usually means that you put off opening email and social media, and your first engagement in your day reflects high priority. Living with priority first not only keeps you from being endlessly lost in a loop of distracting tasks, it will also align your mind and heart for the rest of the day to support that priority.
Isn’t that a lovely idea? It is romantic and sleek all at once… a combination of Anne of Green Gables and Top Gun. I LOVE this idea.
But it doesn’t always work for me. In fact, it rarely works for me. As a 9 on the Enneagram, I have learned that it is very natural for me to be distracted easily. With this knowledge, I am working on asking myself “What is my best action right now?” So it would seem that starting with a priority would make sense for my life practice. But it doesn’t.
When I sit down first thing (after my other first things that are done in my pajamas), I spend vast amounts of time staring into space. I call this ‘I wonder’. I can wonder for a very long time about not a whole lot of things. My natural starting state (at least at this stage in my life) is that spot where there is no wind. Maybe I could rename it meditation or mindfulness.
Traction is the practice that I have developed to support my priorities while addressing my wiring toward inaction and distraction. I choose one of those non-priority to-do’s, set a timer (for 5-10 minutes, usually with Alexa) and get something done. These to-do’s range from laundry folding to paper filing. It is whatever is sitting there out of the corner of my eye or consciousness that will distract me. OR, it is is whatever will give me the satisfaction of something done or significantly moved forward. Tidying a counter, and desk top, or cutting strips of fabric – it really is an endless list.
I remember when I was a little girl, a good friend got a Big Wheel for a birthday present. We loved playing on her Big Wheel, until her parents got her driveway paved. On the new blacktop, all we could do was spin out on the slick new surface. But we learned that if we started on a grassy slope right near the driveway, if we got a bit of a head-start from there, we could have the traction that led to momentum and then the true prize of racing about as fast as we could.
This practice works to support my priorities is that it puts some traction in my day. I get some momentum and easy satisfaction that moves me into the right mindset and rhythm of accomplishment. It reinforces to me that I am making movement forward, especially when so many of my priority tasks are long term or intangible.